Hermes, Whispering at the Moon

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Dear Friend and Reader:

When the Moon opposes the Sun once a month, the planets don’t stop, though it’s one habit of astrology to pretend as if they do. Of course, most astrology is based on pretending to make the planets stop; they don’t stop at the time you’re born, but that moment, etched onto paper, becomes your natal chart.

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Mercury at work. Photo by Eric Francis.

Like many astrologers, I cast the chart for the moment of the Full Moon and study it closely. The Gemini Moon and the Sagittarius Sun form an opposition on Saturday at 7:27 am EST (12:27 UTC). Along with that main aspect, the other planets make shapes and patterns throughout the chart.

One of the more interesting things peeping out of this chart is that Mercury, near the Sun, is conjunct the asteroid Hermes. Mercury of course is the Roman equivalent of the much older and arguably more famous Hermes (Mercury is more notorious than famous). Associated with movement, transitions and boundaries, he could mediate between the mortal and divine worlds. That is, he served as kind of bridge or communication vector between humans and the gods.

There are hilarious stories of Hermes’ first day on Earth, wherein as an infant he taught himself to play the lyre; escaped from his nursery; rustled, killed and skinned two sacred bulls belonging to Zeus; crawled back into his cradle and pretended to be an infant. Zeus was furious. Hermes conned his parents into believing that such an act by a newborn was ridiculous.

He is therefore the patron of pranksters, thieves, travelers, merchants and orators. He is a trickster, known for pranks and, not really allied with the other gods, for his service to humanity. For this and 100 other reasons, I consider satire to be one of the most basic and necessary literary arts — evidence that the mind is in the ‘on’ position.

One scholar described Hermes as "the archetypal core" of Jung’s model of the psyche. Mercury, the planet named for the Roman parallel deity of Hermes, is usually what we use in astrology. For me he evokes the words of Lord Krishna: "I am the mind of the senses, the consciousness of creatures."

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Planet Waves portrait photographer Jeff Bisti — Mercury at work. Jeff’s talent for artificial lighting is astonishing. Photo by Eric Francis.

According to Robert Schmidt, one of the astrologers who specializes in translating and interpreting ancient astrological texts, very old sources say that astrology had five founders — one of whom was Hermes.

They are referred to in the old literature as "the founders," and personally I’ve long wondered who the other four of them were — and who Hermes really was. Of all the gods, I get the most vivid feeling that this Hermes was someone who lived and walked on Earth.

Hermes bears the caduceus, which is a symbol of commerce and of heralds in general (often confused with the rod of Asclepius).

To me, Hermes is synonymous with knowledge — ‘hermetic’ secrets, the knowledge of science and the occult, and lots of background of history. The Hermetic teachings are considered the basis of the Western esoteric tradition. This is really interesting stuff — I could dive in and not come out for decades. Oh wait, that’s what I did.

In Saturday’s Full Moon chart, Mercury and Hermes align exactly (to about one-half of a degree). They are conjunct in Sagittarius, the sign of wisdom and knowledge (and of all things exotic and alien).

Not only do Hermes and Mercury align in a conjunction, but the two square up with Chiron in Pisces, again, exact to the degree. Few things in astrology say "repository of knowledge and wisdom" like Chiron does. The square aspect may be described by astrologers as "at odds with," but it also has a way of bringing things together — especially when it’s exact, and this one is.

So what we get is Hermes, Mercury and Chiron working in effect as one system. Add to that the Sun, one degree away, and the Moon, exactly opposite the Sun, Mercury and Hermes.

Planet Waves
Madison Square Garden, New York City — said to be the largest fifth floor on Earth. (The arena, holding about 23,000 people, is situated on the fifth floor of the structure.) Photo by Eric Francis.

This is the chart of some kind of revelation — such as of deep, ancient knowledge. About what? With Chiron in the picture, one might be inclined to say knowledge about healing. Yet the healing described is in the style of Sagittarius and Pisces. It is spiritual; mystical; existential. It relates to the whole environment.

I have said many times that we live in the age of Mercury. It seems that everything we see, do, touch and relate through is under the general category of what that planet rules. It’s one reason why Mercury retrogrades are such vital events — they make us aware of our environment, the environment that we usually cannot see for what it is. The environment of media and electronics that surrounds us is so pervasive that we hardly notice it until something goes wrong. You could say that this is Mercury getting our attention.

There are of course other ways to focus — more creative ways. With the Gemini Full Moon, something is trying to get our attention, something translated into words and ideas. We often take for granted the power of words as a manifestation of alchemy, but in truth, the use of words changes everything. It allows an individual to know anything they can access in words; it allows people and the entire society to travel in time, since words can take us back to antiquity and help us envision the future.

Along that vein, Mars has recently entered Aquarius. Since the Mars retrograde last spring, every sign change of Mars feels like progress away from the most wrenching astrology of 2014.

Mars in Aquarius is about progress. It feels like light passing through a prism, or a trickle of energy flowing through an integrated circuit board. It’s also a source of motivation that can energize a group. Mars may usually emphasize the individual, but in Aquarius it’s a reminder that groups are groups of individuals.

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Time travel through literacy — researching Patric Walker horoscope columns from April 1989 on ancient microfilm in the New York Public Library, home of Hermes. Photo by Lisa Gatto.

It’s also a reminder that humans in their current state of evolution need leaders. Part of why they need leaders is that humans are conditioned to be lazy thinkers, and also trained to follow.

This is an evolutionary condition that is often exploited by people with toxic agendas. Humanity must learn to distinguish people with political skills and entirely self-serving tendencies from people who are able to work for actual collective goals.

I realize that sounds like a tall order, but it happens that there are many, many people who know how to work for collective goals that don’t purely involve driving a business agenda. It’s just that many of them don’t know that much about business or politics. And some of the friendliest people are the most easily taken advantage of.

While humanity ideally would be able to develop its social organizations in a non-centralized way and still make some progress, for as long as there is the widespread reluctance to take leadership, we will need leaders to help get us to the next place.

Looked at one way, the Mercury-Hermes-Chiron configuration could supply some useful information — such as about how to conduct what you might think of as the commerce of evolution. For example, if we get evolutionary knowledge from an Internet site, newsletter, book or other media, someone needs the business knowledge and framework to make that happen. That is a special skill, or at least it is at the moment. It’s also true that most people just cannot be bothered. It’s easier not to do things than it is to do things, though for some people it’s impossible not to do things, no matter how difficult.

Looked at another way, an aspect that potent could provide information about just about anything at all. Pisces and Sagittarius provide very wide environments.

The Full Moon (and Mercury and Hermes) aligned with the Great Attractor in Sagittarius suggests that anything is possible, and that seemingly small ideas have the ability to travel a long way. We know that this is true — there’s just that small bit about letting that be true.


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